Cristiano Ronaldo was the victim of a double injustice at the Best FIFA Football Awards, according to Portugal coach Fernando Santos, after he missed out on both Best Player and Best Goal.
Luka Modric became the first player other than Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to win the Best FIFA Footballer of the Year award since Kaka in 2007.
The Croatian captained his side to their first ever World Cup final and was voted the tournament’s best player, picking up the Golden Ball.
But Santos has spoken out at the decision to give the midfielder the Player of the Year honour over Ronaldo, suggesting his captain and talisman was unfairly beaten into second place.
He is quoted in Marca as saying: “If you ask me if Modric is a great player, I answer yes, and that’s why I voted for Modric in second place. Now, if you ask me who is the best player and who it was at this time, it was Cristiano Ronaldo, I have no doubts about that.
“He scored 50 goals, which was valid a year ago, two years ago, and three years ago. It seems that suddenly it stopped being ‘it’.”
Santos was equally baffled by the decision to overlook Ronaldo for the Puskas award, with the prize instead going to fellow Best Player nominee Mohamed Salah.
Ronaldo was nominated for his Champions League quarter-final bicycle kick against current employers Juventus, but was beaten by Salah’s curling effort in last season’s Merseyside derby – a decision that has drawn widespread criticism.
Santos was a vocal member of the aggrieved: “When the best player in the world does not win a prize, there is something very strange.”
The ceremony, held in London, was as notable for its absentees as it was for its award recipients. Neither Ronaldo nor Messi were in attendance, with the latter being omitted from the nominations entirely despite another prolific season in which he outscored his Portuguese rival at club level.
Both players, however, were named alongside Modric as part of the FIFPro World XI.